SAPEC builds CornerCam technology
May 24, 2023
SAPEC has led the technological development of CornerCam, a patented system from the Spanish company The Corner Cam that allows to offer shots from the corner flag with unprecedented control on a football pitch.
Corner Cam is a solution that replaces the classic corner flags and includes two cameras (one at height and one at ground level) with horizontal remote control. Both devices, with HD capabilities, are ready to be integrated in real time into broadcasts with a direct fibre optic connection to the OB Truck. CornerCam is the only integrated on-field capture system on the pitch itself, resulting in unprecedented images from its inside.
The system has already been tested in collaboration with the RFEF in two top-level matches: the final of the Copa del Rey 2023, which pitted Real Madrid CF against CA Osasuna, and an international match between the Spanish Under-21 national team and Switzerland. The feedback has been totally positive both from the production team and the spectators themselves, who have been able to enjoy live and in replays some of the key moments of the match, such as goal celebrations or the most decisive corner kicks.
The system has also been designed to adapt to video refereeing contexts, as its privileged position allows the review of possible ball exits on the edge of the pitch.
Innovative technology led by SAPEC
SAPEC’s R&D team has been working for nearly two years on different prototypes and proofs of concept that have finally generated a solution ready to go to market after the mandatory approval of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which will soon evaluate the suitability of the equipment after the great performance demonstrated in the matches held in Spain.
CornerCam brings SAPEC’s decades of experience in the design of broadcast-ready solutions to the market, as well as new developments within the company, which specialises in video contribution and distribution. The systen, which will be marketed by The Corner Cam, consists of a 50-millimetre-diameter banner with two HD cameras with 1080i resolution, remote horizontal panning (PAN) and all the necessary connectivity to operate with all the guarantees in a highly demanding environment.
Both cameras are remotely controllable via a joystick system. The lower camera rotates enough to obtain a total viewing angle of more than 100º, and the upper camera allows panning to provide a full view around the corner.
Seamless connectivity and a versatile design
The signal captured in real time by both cameras is distributed directly to the mobile units via fibre optics. SAPEC, aware that not all mobile units can have the possibility of having eight independent inputs, has created a pre-selection and multi-screen system with which an operator can select which camera to send to the production control.
The facilities provided to the technical team are accompanied by a design that aims to harmonise the robustness of the equipment with guaranteeing the integrity of the football players. The system has a carefully designed mechanical system that allows the entire CornerCam to be folded down in the event of contact with a player or if it is hit by a ball. In the same way, different adapters have been designed to be able to integrate the solution in each pitch.
For Javier Palenciano, SAPEC’s sales manager, this project “shows that SAPEC is more than ready to undertake developments of this calibre, with significant conceptual, logistical, technical and operational challenges. We have received very positive feedback from the media, technical staff and the public, which makes us approach the next phases of product development in collaboration with The Corner Cam with great enthusiasm.”
“At SAPEC we love to take on new projects of different kinds, which help to demonstrate our expertise in creating innovative solutions, beyond our developments in encoders and the distribution of our represented brands,” says Palenciano.
A future-proof solution
One of the partners of The Corner Cam, former footballer and coach Alfonso Pérez, emphasises that “with The Corner Cam we aim to elevate the televised show of football even further by offering a unique view from inside the pitch itself. We are not here to replace any camera, but to add eight new points of view from the four corner flags.”
“It is too early to determine the real potential of our technology. I am convinced that in the first experiences we have not yet realised 100% of what the two robotic cameras at each post can offer in terms of different launch angles, player movement and a multitude of gestures and plays,” he adds.
Regarding the relationship with SAPEC, Pérez acknowledges that “to develop this project, we were looking for a company with experience and prestige in the broadcast sector. We explained the project to SAPEC and, after several meetings, we started to work together on its development. I have to highlight the brilliance in the professional and personal treatment, getting involved down to the smallest detail. In addition, during the tests carried out at the Ciudad Deportiva del Real Madrid, whose president I thank for all the facilities provided during the difficult time of the pandemic, the SAPEC team worked hand in hand with Telefónica Broadcast Services (TBS) on the development. Together we have developed a unique product that is very different from other approaches that offer a static image. We are now waiting to finalise details with the International Football Association Board (IFAB) for its commercial launch.”